I wonder how many of you travelled this Christmas holiday season?

I wonder how many of you went to a sporting event, a seaside carnival, rodeo, festival or even a concert or two?

I wonder how many of you may have braved the shops for the pre or post Christmas sales?

What all these activities have in common are crowds.

Crowds have many attributes: lots of people, a reason or catalyst for congregating together and certainly for what they leave behind.

Every crowd, no matter the event or reason for congregating, always leaves mess, rubbish, damage, chaos; some remnant of their existence.

In the recent football World Cup in Qatar, the Japanese crowds who attend games were noted for their very un-crowd-like behaviour. Do you know what they did? They cleaned up their areas before they left. They took out blue plastic garbage bags and cleaned up their area before leaving. Some even stayed on to help the cleaners clean the entire stadium!

In Japan, from a very young age, this type of cleanliness, orderliness and shared responsibility is ingrained into the Japanese psyche and is part of culture. Hence the popularity of many Japanese social media stars and authors who give advice, tips and tricks on how to clean your house, fold your clothes and store your items. (Required reading I suggest for teenagers the world over.)

There is also a growing trend across the globe for ‘No Trace’ hiking and camping experiences. Simply explained, it means leaving the place you have stayed at, or travelled through, ‘just as it was’ when you found it. Even in some cases, to the extreme, of covering over your footprints or replacing moved pieces of flora if you travel off a designated or marked path. And it certainly means not leaving structures in place, man made items or even those creative ‘balancing rocks’ or nature art made out of sticks, that influencers are so fond of these days.

The ‘No Trace’ thought cohort, like the Japanese team supporters, seek to leave the place they have been as if they were never there.

Now before I go further, let me be clear here, I totally get – and in fact endorse – these two groups for their perspective. I have always been a believer in ‘rubbish in the bin’ as you leave, and even in a stadium, the floor is not a bin. I also totally back the ‘No Trace’ movement (maybe not some of their more hardcore, cover over your footprints ideas) but I do believe in us needing to tread lightly through nature.

But as a life lesson to apply broadly across our time on this earth, of not leaving a mark, well, I believe that it is not what we are called to do as Christians when we view our impact on this world; we are in fact called to be change agents for Heaven.

We are called to be ‘salt’, we are called to be ‘light’, we are called to ‘go and tell’. And I believe that this is what NNSW education is called to do. We are called to leave a legacy, a mark, and that’s what this year’s corporate theme for NNSW education is all about  LEGACY: what we leave behind.

Over these first few weeks of 2023, each week I will build on today’s theme launch and dive a bit deeper into LEGACY and hopefully achieve two things: firstly encourage each of us to think deeply about what our personal and professional LEGACY looks like and secondly, ask ourselves is my LEGACY faith fuelled, or self fuelled.

Legacy; a little word with big implications. I look forward to our journey together in 2023.

LEGACY: what will we leave behind in 2023.

This word of encouragement for Christian educators was written by Dean Bennetts, and distributed in The Bridge newsletter in 2023. Dean is the CEO of Adventist Education in North New South Wales, Australia.